UN high commissioner raises concerns over violence in Papua

Jayapura/Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has visited Indonesia and has raised concerns over the "ongoing suppression of freedom of expression and excessive use of force in Papua."

The UN official said she was informed that the police had conducted crackdowns on mass demonstration across Papua since April 30 as Papuans were preparing to mark the 50th anniversary of Papua becoming a part of Indonesia.

"I urge the government of Indonesia to allow peaceful protest and hold accountable those involved in abuses," she said in a statement released on Friday. "After my official visit to Indonesia last November, I was disappointed to see violence and abuses continuing in Papua."

Two Papuans were reportedly shot dead during a clash between protesters and police officers in the city of Sorong on April 30, a day before the commemoration of Papua's integration into Indonesia on May 1. The victims have been identified as Abner Malagawak, 22, and Thomas Blesya, 22.

Following the clash in Sorong, the police also arrested six people in Ibdi Village in Biak regency for raising the Morning Star flag, a pro-independence symbol that is often used by the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM). The protesters were drawing attention the day Indonesia annexed the resource-rich region, according to the police.

West Papua Legislative Council deputy speaker Demianus Jimmy Idjie deplored the use of violence by the police in dispersing the group attempting to hoist the Morning Star flag. "Seeing these people's wounds, the shooters were not trying to disperse the rally, they were actually aiming at the protesters," he told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. I Gede Sumerta Jaya denied allegations that the police had shot Abder and Thomas during the rally. The police, however, would investigate the allegations, he added.

He said that a team of police officers led by Papua Police deputy chief Brig. Gen. Paulus Waterpauw had been assigned to conduct the investigation.

"It's a hasty conclusion to condemn the police or the military as responsible for the deaths. There wasn't any dead bodies found so we have sent an investigative team to clarify such reports," Gede told the Post on Friday.

According to the police, the clash was inevitable after a group of local residents attacked a joint police-military patrol in Aimas at 00:30 a.m. local time (02:30 a.m. Jakarta time) as the patrol was securing the area due to the plan of a separatist group led by Isak Kalaibin to raise the Morning Star flag on May 1. Gede said that the officers fired warning shots before the clash.

However, according to a local resident, the security forces were to blame for the clash as they provoked the residents into defending themselves.

The UN's Pillay called on the Indonesian government to conduct a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation into incidents of killings and torture in Papua and bring the perpetrators to justice.

"There has not been sufficient transparency in addressing human rights violations in Papua," she said. "I urge Indonesia to allow international journalists into Papua and to facilitate visits by the Special Rapporteurs of the UN Human Rights Council."

House of Representatives Caucus on Papua chairman Yorrys Raweyai said suspicions between Papuans and security forces marked serious, ongoing injustices in Indonesia's easternmost province.

"The problems will never be solved unless the government grants authority to local residents to build their land," said Yorrys.

  • 2015 Nissan Murano aims for the style-forward crowd 9 hours ago
    2015 Nissan Murano aims for the style-forward crowd

    Nissan says its 2015 Murano crossover, only the second major revamp of the car since it debuted in 2003, draws its design cues from the “age of future space flight.” That’s probably taking it a little far, but the new Murano, based off the 2013 Resonance concept vehicle, is an exceptionally lovely machine, all fluid, curved metal on the outside, and flowing, soft-touch materials on the inside. Certain kinds of comfort and charms that were unheard-of outside of premium vehicles five years ago have definitely trickled down, and reached a kind of design apotheosis with this car.

  • Volkswagen brings new (ish) Jetta to New York along with Golf Sportwagen 12 hours ago
    Volkswagen brings new (ish) Jetta to New York along with Golf Sportwagen

    With its new President and CEO of America, Michael Horn, on stage in New York after just 100 days on the job, Volkswagen debuted its 2015 Jetta. You'd be forgiven for noticing little differences compared to the outgoing model, and in the words of Horn himself, the changes are indeed subtle. The most notable of those subtleties is the all-new 2.0 liter turbo diesel motor, offering 45 mpg highway and a modest increase of 10 hp. For VW, diesel is where it's at.

  • With Vantage GT, Aston Martin races below $100,000 12 hours ago
    With Vantage GT, Aston Martin races below $100,000

    Aston Martin is going downmarket, sort of. The 2015 Vantage GT, a sport-styled variant of Aston’s legendary flagship car, draws style and performance tips from their GT4 race cars, which will be running in North America this year. It’s also priced at $99,900, which shows that the market for these kinds of consumer sports cars has boomed in recent years.

  • ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says
    ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The “huge” statues at a Hindu temple in Batu Caves and Buddhist temple in Penang are an affront to Islam as the religion forbids idolatry, a retired Court of Appeals judge...

  • StarHub 4G users to be charged from June as promo ends
    StarHub 4G users to be charged from June as promo ends

    Are you on the 4G or LTE mobile data network under StarHub? If so, you’ll have to start paying for the service.

  • Over 280 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes
    Over 280 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

    By Narae Kim JINDO South Korea (Reuters) - More than 280 people, many of them students from the same high school, were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea on Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years. It was not immediately clear why the Sewol ferry listed heavily on to its side and capsized in apparently calm conditions off South Korea's southwest coast, but some survivors spoke of a loud noise prior to the disaster.